Making a stacked neck is the best way for beginning guitar makers to attempt their first acoustic guitar neck. This construction method is less expensive than making a one piece neck, and it is easier than making a scarf joint.
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Stacked Neck Making Method
One of the biggest mental hurtles for new acoustic guitar makers is making the neck. This can be a challenge for beginning woodworkers, but there are some things that can help make the process easier.
Most acoustic guitar makers use a scarf joint for the head stock. However, this can be a little tough for the beginner.
If you make a jig for the table saw it will be far more accurate, but not all beginners have those tools available. The stacked neck method eliminates the scarf joint entirely. Instead of taking a section of the main board and flipping it over to make the angled head stock, a section of board is glued under the head stock area, allowing the angle to be cut on a band saw.
Ordering the Blocks in the Neck
Plan for as many pieces as needed to get the correct height for the heel and tenon. The number of pieces needed will be different depending on how thick the board is.
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When I make necks, many times I will look for stock thicker than 4/4. Sometimes you can find 5/4 or 6/4 wood in the desired species, and this makes a neck blank with far more meat for cutting out the shape. It also means less blocks are needed for the heel. The few extra dollars spent on the thicker board is made up typically by the ease in cutting later. The necks in this picture are made from 6/4 stock, and only required two additional blocks at the heel to achieve the proper height.
Making a stacked neck is an easier process for beginning guitar makers, and eliminates some of the harder steps. The neck is just as strong, and the look will be similar to other construction methods.
Lastly, place the pieces in the order they are cut. This means the first piece cut from the left side of the board goes under the head stock area. The next is the longest piece which is the main body of the neck. Then, the next becomes the first block on the stacked heel. Finally, keep cutting off pieces and stacking them in order until the heel is as tall as needed.
Working like this keeps the grain pattern looking as close to solid as possible. One of the things that can give away a stacked heel is poor alignment. If the pieces are stacked any which way, the grain will not line up nicely. However, if stacked in the order they are cut, the differences are greatly minimized. In many cases, a fine line is all that remains after gluing and shaping. This can only be seen from close up, and does not take away from the look of the guitar.
My book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs covers the stacked neck, as well as many other guitar making topics. This is not an ABC book, but rather a companion that teaches beginning guitar makers easier methods of making a guitar. It has over 500 pages, over 1600 images, and teaches many guitar making processes. There are over 50 tools, templates, and jigs explained, and they can save a new guitar maker thousands of dollars over store bought tools.
For more on guitar making, take a look at some of my other articles below:
- How to Make An Acoustic Guitar Bridge
- Acoustic Guitar Back Strip Inlay
- Shop Made Fret Board Duplicating Jig
- Shop Made Fret Bending Jig
- Finishing With Tru-Oil
If you have questions on making a stacked neck, leave a comment and I will answer them. Happy Building.
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